2016 Week 5 Picks

Week 4 was the second straight losing 2-3 week. losing weeks are going to happen but you want to obviously minimise the severity of them but more importantly you don’t want to have them impact the following week. Sometimes after losing it’s hard to fire on a lot of games and you can get conservative or move away from good bets because you lost similar ones the previous week. Shot memories can be helpful in betting. I liked a lot of games this weekend, the card may end up being the largest in terms of games played so far but yo gotta just go with it. It’s a long season, week 5 is no time to run and hide.

 

Last Week 2-3

NFL 2016: 12-8-1

2015: 63 – 37 – 3

Game 1: Was @ Bal -3.5

Bet%; Was 52% Bal 48%

Washington is coming off of 2 straight wins and appears to be back on track after a 0-2 start, while the Ravens lost their first game of the year to the Raiders. With the Ravens at home, this line essentially makes them 0.5 favorites on a neutral field but I don’t see them that close.

In my ratings I have Baltimore as #10 and Washington at 17, I think by the end of the year both may drop a few spots but the gap feels about right. Baltimore is 4th in defensive DVOA, and 1st vs the run. Last week, Washington had their best run game of the year averaging 5.6 yards per rush which meant they didn’t have to just rely on Cousins and the pass game.

Even though Washington ended up winning both of their last 2 games they were in position to lose both and probably would have had it not been for some very timely turnovers from the Giants and Browns. Both Giants and Browns turned the ball over 3 times and Washington was +4 in TOs in those games.

The Ravens are coming off of a very tough loss where they allowed the Raiders to drive down with 2 mins left and score a GW TD. Ravens outgained Raiders 412-261, ran almost 30 more plays then them and probably deserved a better fate.

On the injury front, Washington was particularly hit hard last week with players leaving, it looks like Kerrigan and starting G Lauvao will play but may not be 100%.

Game 2: Chi +5 @ Ind

Bet% Chi 47% IND 53%

This one just feels like too many points for Chicago in what is a very tough spot for the Colts and in fact in DVOA rankings Chicago ranks a little higher than the Colts based on only this season (23rd to 27th).

Lets start off with the schedule side for the Colts. Indy becomes one of the only teams I can remember to not get a bye the week after playing in London. Maybe it doesn’t have a major impact Sunday but it has to be somewhat of a disadvantage and I think it is unlikely they had a regular week of practice because of it.

The Colts are 1-3 and they will definitely need this win if they want to make the playoffs so there is that ‘desperation’ risk but I’m just not sure that it is enough to think they can cover a number like this coming off of a cross continental trip.

The Bears have lost some ugly games but they by the numbers they look better than one would expect. By DVOA they are 19th on offense and 17th on defense so far, Colts are 18th on offense and 30th on defense. It’s obviously early so these numbers can change quickly and I expect the Colts offense to finish higher by end of season but their defense is not deep enough to play with all of the guys hurt right now.

I expect the Colts to be sluggish to start this game and I also think with division leader Houston on deck next week on SNF there could be some looking ahead. The Bears have struggled vs the run and the Colts have been trying to use the run more, a slower paced game heavier on the run should keep this game close.

Another reason I think the Bears can be in this game is the Colts have not done well with big plays, they are -7 in big play differential (27th) while the Bears are just -1 which is 15th best.

Game 3: Cin -2 @ Dal

Bet%: Cin 65% Dal 35

In both this game and also the Eagles -Lions game if we bet that one, the key reason for the bets is simply that this level of turnover prevention from not just rookie QBs but all QBs is so rare. Dak Prescott has run 277 plays on offense 131 pass attempts and has zero turnovers. Even if he is especially skilled at not throwing interceptions, which is way too early to conclude, there are just random plays that happen games where you will have turnovers. The lack of turnovers has allowed Dallas to run a very efficient offense, 3rd in DVOA and 6th in yards per pass att and 9th in DVOA overall.

While I am not willing to bet on Dallas being able to maintain their streak of non-turnovers I do like the chances of the Bengals defence 7th in DVOA (9th in 2015) being the toughest test the Cowboys have faced so far and having a lot of success against them especially without Dez Bryant. Dallas has faced middling to poor defenses so far, surprisingly the Bears are the previous opponent with the highest DVOA rating on defense 17th that they have played.

While this is a major step up in competition for Dallas, for the Bengals, their 2 losses have come to the Bronco and Steelers, who are a combined 7-1 and rank in the top 5 in DVOA. I also think there is extra motivation to get this game for the Bengals because they play the Patriots in NE on TNF, if they lose here you would have to think they are looking 2-4 square in the eyes.

The Bengals have struggled big in 2 places, 1 on their offensive line and 2 converting redzone chances. Cincy is 31st in sacked percentage but did look better last week giving up only 1 sack to a very good Miami front. The line issues shouldn’t be a problem in this game because the Cowboys do not have a strong pass rush. Dallas is 25th so far in sack% and without any real pass rush threat.

The Bengals are dead last in RZ TD% converting just 30.77% of trips to TDs. Last year they were pretty mediocre at 46% but even getting back to just over 40% which seems reasonable should allow them to be close to last years team.

Game 4: Buf pk @ LA Rams

Bet% Buf 56% LA 44%

This line opened LA -1.5 and moved to a pick or Buf-1 most places. I still think this is a real cheap price because I do not believe the Rams are real. Both these teams have 2 high profile wins, Rams beat Cards and Seahawks, while Bills beat Cards and Patriots. We know the Rams always play their division rivals tough but season after season we see them beat Seattle, Arizona and SF and lose to everyone else.

The Bills have real problems on defense that I think will be exploited this season, the last2 weeks they were helped greatly by Carson Palmers’ interceptions and Jacoby Brisetts’s Jacob Brissetness. The last 2 weeks have helped move the Bills to 14th in defensive DVOA and while I think they will drop over the year, this week’s matchup vs Case Keenum and the 31st ranked Rams offense is one they should be able to take full advantage of like they did last week.

The Rams defense sometimes gets compared to the elite defenses and while they are very good and possess super human Aaron Donald, they are not quite playing at that elite level. The Rams defense is  12th in DVOA, 10th in opp passer rating, 11 in opp rush yards per att and most surprisingly 27th in sack %.

Defensively both these teams have played at similar levels but on offense it has not been close. The Rams are one of the 3 worst offenses in almost every category, including rushing. The Rams have rushed for 3 yards per rush so far, 30th in the league, they simply have not been able to use Todd Gurley in an efficient way partly due with the lack of risk the pass game offers to opposing defenses. The Bills on the other hand are 5th in the league averaging 4.6 yards per att and should be able to ride Mccoy and Taylor’s legs to a low scoring win here.

Game 5: SD +3.5 @ Oak

Bet% SD 49% Oak 51%

This is one of 2 games I have on my card where I feel confident I am on the right side but worry that injuries could play such a large role that it might not matter. The Chargers who seemingly go through this every season will now not only be without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead on offense for the year but lost their best player on defense CB Jason Verret along with leading tackler Manti Teo. Its hard to know if the Chargers can plug guys in that can play at least replacement levels.

While their records are very different these teams are actually very similar. By DVOA they rank 7th and 13th overall, both are in the top 10 in offense and bottom 10 in defense.

What’s more, these teams have basically played identical 4 games but came away with very different results. The Chargers at 3-1 have played 3 1 score games but are 0-3 in those games. In fact they had a lead in all 4 games with 2 minutes left. The 1 game that wasn’t close was a 24 point win vs the Jags.

The Raiders are 3-1 in 1 score games and in 2 of the wins trailed late and won on their final drives. I have very liberally in the past stole Gill Alexanders comparison of NFL results to Plinko and these 2 teams are really proof of how true that can be.

The Chargers are severely undermanned in this game but if they have any chance at the playoffs they need this win, at 1-4 with the Broncos 4-0, Raiders and Chiefs ahead of them their season is basically done. With Phillip Rivers they always have a chance in games and with the FG plus and how many close games both these teams have played, this feels like a good spot to take SD.

 

Game 6:  Phi @ Det +4

Bet% Phi 75% Det 25%

Everything about this line says that Detroit is the right side. The Lions are coming off of their worst performance of the year while the Eagles are coming off of a bye. The look ahead line for this game was Det -1, so basically the Chicago game and hype during Eagles bye week moved his 4 points.

I am an Eagles fan and overall incredibly impressed by this start. I thought the Eagles defense had every chance to be a top 10 defense if everyone was healthy under Jim Schwartz. Currently they are #2 in DVOA which is beyond what I thought or think is possible . And while I wasn’t sure what to make of the 1st 2 weeks, the Steelers win was a statement and I think legitimised them as a true playoff and NFC East contender.

While I am not sure I can be more impressed by the performances of both Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz, I also do not think it is reasonable to expect this level of efficiency to be sustainable.

The Eagles have zero turnovers through 3 games, as mentioned in the Dallas write up, there are just too many random plays in a game to think that a team can enjoy a +2 per game TO margin that they have so far. Even if Wentz proves over time to be elite at avoiding interceptions that does not mean zero Ints and that also doesn’t take into account fumbles which are almost always random.

One of the things that the Eagles have really benefited from is yards after catch, week 3’s Darren Sproles 75 yard TD which was a quick throw to flat that saw a missed tackle being a great example. The Eagles are 3rd in average yards after catch at 6.41. A lot of this is by design, the Pederson version of West Coast offense is a quick throwing offense that relies on that. The Lions offense on the other side is very similar. The point being, so far the Eagles have been able to get big plays from those short passes and I’m not sure that can be counted on all season long.

Stafford has had a couple of tough weeks in a row but going back to last year he was one of the most productive QBs in the league once Jim Bob Cooter took over. That includes a game vs the Eagles last year where he passed for 337 yards 5 TDs and 0 interceptions, so he clearly has had success against this group.

My hesitation on this game and reason for waiting has been  the Lions are just so banged up on defense. Lions are 30th in defensive DVOA and a lot of that is because they are missing so many key pieces including Ziggy Ansah and Deandre Levy. I am betting it because often the games that feel hardest to bet are exctly the ones you should be betting. I’m not sure there is an easier game to bet on his card than the Eagles -4, there will be a ton of money on them.

Game 7: 6Pt- Teaser Min-Hou Under 44.5 & Ten-Mia Under 50

Not sure this is a good idea as teasers on totals are thought to be poor value so we will see. The Min-Hou game is the lowest total of the week, the 6 points gets us over the key number of 44. The Vikings are the best scoring defense in NFL, neither of these teams have been scoring on offense but there is a risk of turnovers and short fields. We also know both teams are going to run in this game, the Vikings will not have Stephon Diggs so I expect them to try to spread ball around but keep the ball mostly short. These teams have gone under a combined 7 of their 8 games this season.

Titans and Dolphins game was the other one that showed up big on my under number. These are 2 teams that are amongst the lowest scoring offenses in the league and 2 of the least efficient passing games. The Titans have had a lot of success in the run game and I think they are likely continue that his week. I don’t see either team jumping out big early which means they should both be able to play a safe slow game.

 

 

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